Friday, 30 April 2010

More on Regionalism

The idea here is that these islands should be viewed as regions and not nations - we should reconfigure the space of British politics along regionalist lines. For some contemporary political philosophers, regionalism offers the possibility of a new counter-hegemonic political movement that could draw on a region’s political traditions in order to support forms of political action that could bypass the moribund political traditions of the modern nation state.

In this way, regionalism is necessarily an anti-systemic and counter neo-liberal form of politics: a post-Westphalian radicalism for postmodern times, that recognises the central importance of local traditions as a political counter-force that can be mobilised against neo-liberal forms of marketisation and the commodification of public goods.

Hence the politics of the left needs to be more than knee-jerk ‘anti-Toryism’. The key idea here is that regionalist decomposition of nations into semi-autonomous regions is not only culturally and economically possible, but was also in some way 'inevitable' given the political trajectory of the global economy. Regions no longer need nations in order to survive either materially or culturally.

What we need in the UK today is regional forms of political autonomy mediated via the ‘authentic political traditions’ of particular regions. Regionalism in this way functions in the service of ‘progressive cosmopolitanism’ rather than nationalist particularism

Neil Turnbull


  1. I think that there is another point to be made here as well. After the election the left is likely to retreat into back into its 'core areas' (even if it holds in a minority government, it probably won't last there very long). Hence radicalism will increasingly be associated with place and not nation.

    I think that we need to recognise now that the attempt to reinvent the Keynesian nation state is not the way forward for the left at all. Social Democracy seems to be a dead end. The liberterians of the 1960s were correct - it's existential effects are simply too negative (alienation, dependency etc).

    However, this does not mean that we simply allow the market to occupy the space left behind the nation state - as this would simply intensify the logic of financial deregulaition/deindustrialisation etc.

    Hence we don't need a more state but a new state form - one that recognises the importance of community and retains an intimate relation with local cultural vernaculars...

    Is this the way forward?

    Neil Turnbull

  2. Hmm sounds a bit feudal and monastic to me! I'm speaking first hand here, all you need to do to get this is bring in proportional representation. Although something's got to happen (or give) and I think the economic climate will revert to feudal forms in some shape or form anyway, so a more progressive version of this would be more than welcome.

    Also, how far should we go with the diminishment of the state. Would we be able to keep the NHS? I know your not arguing for the 'big society' but the last thing I want is some local volunteer loon treating my ingrown toenails!!!

    What do you think?

  3. ok, one last post...

    This is about the hollowing out of the powers and significance of the nation state in the context of contemporary globalisation...

    This forces us to recognise that we need new political structures in the context of a globalised world. Place becomes more important than nation (for firms, civil society and individualis)...

    There is a sense of localism to the Tory agenda, but it is not of a political kind really. It is not about new systems of governance...

    As a rejection os the Westphalian settlement regionalism may be viewed as refeudalisation...

    But so what? Do you really buy into the 'modern=good' idiocy of the post 1789 world?

    That is definitely it from me until after the summer..



  4. I like that this positive thesis. It is good to see people trying to come up with ideas about how the future would best be governed. I am very interested to see how this this fedaralist localism would diminish the localisation of capital in the hands of the few. Quite right, the state doesn't seem to be able to do this, but how would a fractured state be able to offer any furhter resistance to those extant things which transcends regional boundaries i.e. the minority of the wealthy who control the means of production, the media, digitial currency, control of religious aspirations, and de facto control of governments.